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Cofield On Oxford — Hugh Who?

Hugh Freeze has established a growing dynasty at Ole Miss in his three short seasons as head coach. / Photo by Chuck Barnes
Hugh Freeze has established a growing dynasty at Ole Miss in his three short seasons as head coach. / Photo by Chuck Barnes

When it comes to successful college football coaches, in general and in the Hugh Freeze situation in particular, there are two determining factors in a coach’s decision to stay or go.
photo 1FIRST: Coach’s loyalty to the school. If you are coaching three states from home and your strongest tie to the program is the money, then it’s easy to move on closer to home. In fact, isn’t it the goal of most every coach? To go back home and be a winner, win it all?!
He was a little boy, just one county up from Oxford, listening, hanging on to every word of Rebel football on Saturday nights. Later, he and his young bride snuck into Neyland Stadium, onto the field, and he promised her one day he’d be the head coach of an SEC football program.
Later, when Hugh Freeze was introduced to Rebel Nation, when he stepped on the stage and took the mic, he told the truth. And as he looked at his wife and girls, he choked up — and we all did for him, a little, too — and he could barely get it out: “I’ve taken them all around the nation.”
He went on to say their journey had always been with one destination in mind: Ole Miss. He was home, he said. Now his mother lives 45 minutes from her grandchildren, and his wife and children are a happy, secure family. His loyalty to Ole Miss, and love of Oxford, are not issues here.
photo 2SECOND: School’s loyalty to the coach. You have to pay the man. If Florida (or any serious football program) offers him a million more than we are paying him now, then we have to match it. We match it because Freeze is now a successful young coach with another season of great games and recruiting on his resume. And we match it because it is simple capitalism. If a competitor is offering 4 million, that is what Freeze is now worth in this market. Call it a 25 percent raise worked out through football’s unique high-dollar system. Also, the coach must have fantastic packages to offer the quality assistant coaches he is going after.
Finally, money always brings in the matter of honor and respect. If a man feels insulted by his employer then he never forgets it, ever. If he knows his work is respected by his employer then you have a well oiled machine, top to bottom.
photo 3But you have to pay the man. And enter Ross Bjork. We have the right AD in place. He is no rookie to the college football landscape and he absolutely knows how to treat his coaches. Hugh Freeze will always be happy with the way he is respected by his AD and Chancellor Dan Jones. This is a non-issue here also.
I believe in my heart, I know in my heart, that one day Freeze’s grandchildren will choke up a little at the ceremony when the speaker at the mic proclaims the induction of Hugh Freeze into the SEC Hall of Fame as Head Coach of the Ole Miss Rebels.

Courtesy of John Cofield, a HottyToddy.com writer and one of Oxford’s leading folk historians. He is the son of renowned university photographer Jack Cofield. His grandfather, “Col.” J. R. Cofield, was William Faulkner’s personal photographer and for decades was Ole Miss yearbook photographer. John also attended Ole Miss. Contact John at johnbcofield@gmail.com.

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